“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” -James 1:2-4
Life can feel like a ship tossed to and fro by the waves of the storm. In the midst of life’s conflicts, turmoil, and contradiction, we can become bitter or better. We can look through the lens of faith until we find a place where God perfects and guides us—the center of God’s will. Do you know how it feels to be in the eye of the storm, and yet the center of God’s will? I’m about to share how we can rest even in the storm by positioning ourselves to see miracles happen in our lives and the lives of those around us.
James chapter one says, when we go through trials and tribulation, we should find joy and happiness. We can and should rejoice because we know that tribulation is a vehicle that brings us to a place of perfection and maturity in our walk with God. What we have to remember is that even though we have trials and tribulations while we’re wholeheartedly following God – those things happen because God wants us to mature into His perfect love.
Coronavirus leading us to Compassion Relief Outreach
When the coronavirus hit the world, it literally shocked the entire planet, putting hundreds of millions of people into quarantine while others remained locked down. Specifically, we were hit hard by the pandemic. While we were rejoicing for reaching the peak of our ministry, the chaos hit the world and shook the foundation of our progress. There were so many open doors. God had begun to do great things in the nation of the Philippines, but the coronavirus literally turned our world upside down.
However, what happens with conflict, as explained in the Bible, is that it truly tests what’s inside of our hearts. And what I found inside my heart was a man who hasn’t completely aligned with the Lord. And personally, I got sick for about two weeks. Caught in an inner turmoil because of all that was going on, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What’s going to happen to me? And how’s this going to end?”
But, how long did it take before my first epiphany? Well, it was as soon as I discovered another reality that was outside the bubble of anxiety that enveloped me. It happened during the lockdown, I was getting ready to fix dinner for my family, so I asked Claudia what she wanted to eat. At that moment, it suddenly dawned on me that I had choices for food and several options for dinner. Then, something supernaturally hit me. I looked out the window, and I felt the Holy Spirit strike my belly. And all of a sudden, I began to starve.
This lasted for a while before I became utterly overtaken by the thought of the dire situation of many millions of people, especially in developing countries. Because of the quarantine, people were out of jobs, which means there was no income. Literally, people were starving by the millions. It struck me hard to realize that in my own backyard, there was this kind of people, suffering from no one to help.
While we have food to eat , these people didn’t, and I didn’t know what they were eating. Or were they even eating anything at all? So, there I was, asking Claudia, my wife, what she would like for dinner. Ariela, my daughter, had several choices, and it was just that. I was convicted by the fact that we had choices of what to eat while others languished in poverty.
I found light even in the valley of darkness and despair. I had the answer to someone’s question—water for their thirst and food for their hunger. Why should I be the only person with a choice of what to eat right now, while countless others don’t have a choice than to starve? So, I said, I need to do something about this. As we went forward, that shaking that I had in myself during the coronavirus, not knowing what to do became a spiritual conviction that God has something planned out for me. And I knew that I had to find the center of God’s will even in the eye of my storm. I had to find out what true strength was when all else fails. So, I went into a session of prayer and fasting.
Because everything was taken away from us during the military lock down in the Philippines, I realized that the only thing I could do was to lean on the Lord. Eventually, I got in a position to truly align myself with scripture, and from there, we were able to capture God’s intention for that season. We understood that God did not want us to shrink down in fear; instead, He wants us to become bold, active, and courageous.
Since we became bold and active, we began to move in compassion towards issues and people on the Lord’s heart. When he started, God began opening doors to enable us to actually provide relief materials that would impact thousands of people in various places during the lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic in the Philippines. While we didn’t feed the entire nation, yet we were able to be as disciples of Jesus, sharing the love of God to as many people as possible.
What is the meaning of spiritual strength?
The global pandemic was an invisible enemy that caught several people, governments, businesses, and ministries off guard. I don’t know about you, but when the coronavirus shutdowns began, we had to find strength beyond the chaos all around us. We had to rediscover what spiritual strength really means.
Here are some scriptures that basically the Lord was showing us on how we were to pray for real strength and how to move forward with this.
“Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.” – 1 Corinthians 3:12-13
In first Corinthians 3 verses 12 to 13, Paul underscored the various kinds of foundations for life and service. Through this scripture, the Lord was revealing what our foundation was made of—whether it was wood, hay, or straw—things that could burn up or endure under fire. God was revealing foundations like gold, silver, and jewels that could be put into the refiner’s fire, and yet would actually become stronger.
With that revelation came a crucial question: what’s really the strength of God inside of us? As I struggled with finding answers to this question, I realized that there were a lot of things inside of me that exposed the fact that, in some areas of life, I was operating in my own strength. I was putting things in my to-do list without considering if they were God’s priority for me at that time or not.
Afterward, when everything was stripped away from us, the only thing we had left was what we got through prayer—the compassion relief for our community. That was when I knew the secret of divine strength. In response, my team and I had to stick to this strength. We had to go with the divine flow, even if it meant walking by faith every step of the way.
Another place I found the strength of God was inside our fellowship and our community. On our missions base, as we all prayed, we were struck with an anointing to continue in wholehearted worship to God. But, just before we caught a fake sense of self-sufficiency and artificial vibrancy within our hearts during the worship exercise and spiritual experience at that time, God immediately pointed out the fact that when you took away all of the activity, there was like this numbness and deadness, and confusion as regard the next line of action in a season when we can’t really rely on anybody else. And that was when we started to determine where our strength lies to move forward as a team.
What is a good word for strength?
A Greek word for strength or power is dunamis. Certainly, dunamis is the true strength that comes from God. God is love. Therefore, the meaning of true strength is God’s love in action.
For better understanding, here’s an excerpt of Bible dictionary:
1) strength power, ability
1a) inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth
1b) power for performing miracles
1c) moral power and excellence of soul
1d) the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth
1e) power and resources arising from numbers
1f) power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts”
Accordingly, dunamis is the power to perform the miraculous. It’s that inner ability to go beyond what normality offers. This kind of God- level power and strength became what we had to find during the coronavirus lockdown—moving into a realm of possibilities.
Therefore, leaning towards God’s strength became the big thing for our ministry team and me. It transcended just the activity, it went beyond the norm of busyness without loving people, the Bible way.
In the Bible, there are multiple forms of love. There’s a friendship love and erotic love, a family love, and then there’s this God-kind of love, which is called apage love — the greatest source of dunamis.
The Bible says,
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
-1 John 4:8
While we were praying as a team and all of us were together, what we discovered was that we find true strength when we really understand what God’s love is, and we give it a wholehearted and self-sacrificing commitment. And it’s from that place of unconditional, powerful, compassionate love that we’re able to move in the power and strength of Jesus.
This is the place we all have to pray to operate from. Are we operating froma place of God’s love or are we operating from our own strength and self-focus? When we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the source of our strength to us, we gain a fresher perspective on life and ministry. Now, how do we get to a place of divine strength? How do we turn and repent from a place of focusing on our strength? How do we move on to a place where our focus eventually shifts to everybody else in a spirit of the sacrificial and unconditional love of Jesus? When we experience this shift, we can actually move forward in pure and divine strength.
How to build your spiritual strength?
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.” -Revelation 3:1-2
First, you need to identify what true, Godly strength (dunamis and agape) is. Then, you make sure you begin to operate in it. To do this, you need to learn how to build divine strength after you recognize what true strength is.
The Lord began to reveal the truth about our strength by using descriptions in the book of Revelations, chapter three, verses one to two. Basically, this is a scripture where God was saying that the Sardis church looked alive to everybody else because of their bogus activities and externalities, but inside they were actually dead.
What God was showing us during the coronavirus quarantine and lockdown was that we had activities of somebody alive. In contrast, inside of us—where it really matters, we were spiritually dead. After that, God instructed us to wake up, and then strengthen the little that remained, even if what was left that was almost dead.
Basically, God was saying, I find that your actions do not meet my requiements. Hence, we need to look at the Bible for the face value of what God’s love is about, what fellowship is about. The way we control our tongues. The way we worship. The way we hunger and thirst for righteousness. And if we were to compare all these to the standard of the Bible, would we actually meet God’s standard and requirements.
Knowing this puts us in a real position where we have to be transparent as we take a look at ourselves, asking in prayer, “Where are we really spiritually?”
Guess what. The good news is that, whatever it is that we have faith in, as we pray, staying committed, allowing God to move, will see an unprecedented increase. We need to make sure that as we repent and we become obedient and committed in faith, then God takes whatever little seed that we have, turning it into 100 fold-abundance and multiples.
Therefore, as we take the first step of identifying what spiritual strength mean, then we become aware of God’s presence. We have to keep multiplying our efforts by faith in God’s strength, and by obedience to God’s commands, following the word even in world chaos and crisis.
There are specific things that we can examine in our lives. We get to ask ourselves:
Financially, is there any place where I rely on my own strength, making my own financial decisions, without allowing God a 100% control in decisions regarding my budget and my future as regards finances?
Second is if I compare my lifestyle and finances to the standard of the word of God, how much of it is actually 100% align with the truth? And how much of it is within the boundaries of my own opinion? By this, I mean the opinion that comes out of your mouth, everything you say, whether it is edifying and uplifting, or not. I’m referring to those idle words that tear down others. The times you don’t speak life, but speak death over people and circumstances around you.
The way you can examine your words is by accepting the fact that the Bible says, God, records every single word that comes out of your mouth. Hence, the idea here is if you were to record every single word that you speak, how much of these words actually glorify Jesus.
The next place is your thoughts. How many of your thoughts have you taken captive? The enemy has brought us to the place where we know entertainment is telling us what we like to hear and what we read in secular books are telling us how we should live our lives. Whereas, it’s really the Word of God that has the power to renew every single thought in our mind.
For example, complaining and grumbling and negative thoughts are the things that take over our world. But if we consider and ask ourselves, we will know if we spend any time thinking about the greater good of everyone around us. In contrast to mumbling and complaining inside of our heart about certain things in among family members, in our marriage and concerning our children.
In life, nothing ever starts at stage of actions or words, all that happens begins at the thought-level. This is why, there are several examples of forces that attack us on the battlefield of the mind. We need to investigate our thought-life to spot the enemy within.
Finally, being in quarantine and having rights taken away from us can become a blessing in disguise. The situation could be ordained to put us in a position where, if we are sensitive and open to the Holy Spirit with a teachable and humble heart. We could ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas in our lives that need purification and realignment to the standard of God’s truth, love, and strength.
How do you pray for strength and guidance?
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have have the requests that we have asked of him.”
–1 John 5:14-15
The next step after determining the secret of real spiritual strength is to walk in it even during a global crisis. This is when we begin to ask ourselves what the Lord wants us to do with our new heart with agape love and compassion. This can become our focus when we pray and ask for guidance. We don’t ask what we want to do, rather we ask God what He wants us to do. By asking what God wants us to do, we grow in confidence that whatever God wants to do will actually manifest in reality.
We know this because we understand the nature of God’s heart, as revealed in scripture. We know that God’s heart is filled with compassion. We know that God has a precious place in His heart for the poor and needy. We also know that God’s mouth will be opened for those that can’t speak for themselves.
More specifically, we come to realize that this is the perfect timing for the scriptures to come alive in our lives and within our team. This season is right for deciding to follow the word of the Lord, coming to us, and putting us in the direction of helping the poor and needy at this moment. We have come to a place where we cannot think about ourselves alone without concern for the poor and needy.
To march forward in the mandate, God is calling us to become as bold as lions and not be afraid to share the gospel. Indeed, this is the time to be courageous and not shrink back in fear.
How you pray for clarity and guidance?
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
The next is learning how to pray for clarity and guidance. To understand this, we need to know what John 10: 27 means by the sheep, hear my voices, and they follow me. We have to first understand how to know God’s voice.
Knowing God’s voice is everything about our personal experiences with the Lord. It is being parallel and harmonious with the word of God. Sometimes the way we perceive God can be the same as we regard our father or could be the same way we view our pastors or church leaders or a fervent Christian who we look up to for mentorship.
But in reality, the way we know God’s voice is by actually looking at what the scripture says. It’s by making the word of God our compass for navigating life. So, as we experience the Lord’s presence and grow in the knowledge of the word, become acquainted with the voice of God.
How do you hear God’s voice when making a decision?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsiffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law.”
We have to become sheep that know the voice of the shepherd. So, the more we hear the voice of Jesus – our good Shepherd, the more we’re supposed to obediently follow Him. By the way, how do we know the voice of the Lord? Okay, here are some practical attributes of the voice of Lord. Galatians 5 verse 23 reveals love, joy, peace, patience, and several other fruit of the Spirit.
In the light of this truth, we can always examine our inner voices to tell how they represent love, joy, peace, patience, longsuffering, and kindness—the characters of God’s voice. However, when we realize that the voices we hear doesn’t represent God’s nature, we’re definitely going to find that they match more of the fruit or nature of the flesh. Then, we can discern that the voice we’re hearing is not God’s voice.
So, while we may not know when God is moving in our lives, yet we do know what the scripture says about God’s character. When we follow what the scripture says, and pray diligently, we can move on to ask for confirmation as we fellowship with elders in the body of God. Then, from that place of community prayer and study of scripture, we can accurately discern God’s voice, and we can make right decisions based on this.
How can I hear the inner voice of God?
Pray, and do what is in God’s heart. Also a diligent study of the word of God, as well as a consistent lifestyle of prayers, are ways to know the mind of God concerning any situation.
The Bible says,
“And when Jesus went out, He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)
How can I hear the inner voice of God? To answer this question, I remember Matthew 14 verse 4. One scripture that stood out to during the coronavirus pandemic. I realised that it’s not uncommon for God to be moved by compassion before he does something miraculous.
Fortunately, the light of this scripture directed us to the moment we knew that God had compassion for the people, the poor, the needy, and the starving. So, we also became moved to respond with compassion, just as Jesus would.
Realizing that, God had given us resources and options for food. We knew that if we reach out to the rest of the body of Christ, we were confident that supplies would show up. Through prayers, we knew that was the inner voice of God. So, we asked the Lord to bring it to alignment with our reality, and then we applied what scripture said into our personal lives.
That was one of the ways that we knew that it was the inner voice of God. Again, it goes into knowing scriptures knowing what is happening in your life praying with a greater body of God, then actually making a decision from that place. Then, by the end of the outreach, we were able to feed thousands of people that were affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We also preach the gospel to the people who made disciples of Christ. And the good news is that those disciples are still fervent in the faith, and this was an open door that we never had before. Looking back at the turn out of the whole events and the transformation that took place, it was obvious that we were led by the voice of God because of the massive harvest of souls.
Take Away Points
The major takeaway point is that we should always rejoice and be glad in times of trials and tribulation. We know that God can redeem anything and that He has a purpose for his people. He has a purpose for us. And if we lean on His word, then we will discover what that purpose is. Then we would find confidence and direction for our lives.
Rather than bowing our heads downcast and frustrated due to the attacks of the enemy, we could turn it around and even leverage it to advance God’s kingdom. In advacing the kingdom, the glory returns to God and more disciples are made for the kingdom.
However, it’s important to always remember that the key to answered prayers is to stay in the word. Pray diligently and be bold to bear the burden of other people as well in prayers. Much more, seek meet the needs of those around, be generous to the poor.
Remember, showing kindness to the poor is a loan to God (Proverbs 19:17) because God’s heart is always with the poor and needy to show compassion to them. So, take the focus from yourself and point the beam of love to the needy around you. Then you are obeying the word of the Lord that says pick up your cross daily because it’s not about feeding our fleshly ego, but seeking the well-being of others.
Are you willing and ready to take the step? Are you set to share the love of Christ with those around you? Why not make that move now, and as you show compassion to others, you will not lack God’s compassion in your time of need.
God bless you!